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The Vibes Are Off: Does Consumer Sentiment Matter More Than Facts?

Technically speaking, many economic indicators are looking just fine. Yet, studies are showing consumer confidence is lower than ever.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
Updated 1:13PM 09/20/22

Kyla Scanlon, a creator, writer and researcher, wrote a newsletter on the “vibecession” in late June. The gap between the present economic reality and the broad expectations of the public is huge; even though things may not be too bad, the vibes are off, and consumers seem to be following their guts rather than the facts.

NPR’s Planet Money recently released an episode detailing the current situation and the division between sentiment and statistics. 

The episode outlined that:

  • Inflation is at the highest level in decades.
  • A consumer sentiment report published in June shows the lowest confidence in a decade.
  • Unemployment is close to record lows.
  • Business spending has increased.
  • Retail, travel and dining spending has increased.

How does all of this come together? 

Regardless of the facts, consumer sentiment and consequential behaviors will influence the economy itself and may even impact how the Fed responds as it works to combat inflation.

As rumors of an economic downturn swirl, many prospective business people are proceeding with a bit more caution. While it’s important to recognize the very real impacts consumer sentiment and behavior can have on the larger economy, it’s just as crucial to make business-related decisions by weighing multiple statistical factors rather than operating on vibes alone.

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